City and state officials joined City Councilman Jumaane Williams and Kirsten Foy, director of public affairs in the Office of City Advocate, Bill DeBlasio at City Hall to protest their arrest and treatment by police.
Borough President Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Yvette Clarke, and other high-ranking city and state officials voiced concern over the detainment and brief arrest of the two city officials on Labor Day.
Willams and Foy were detained by police while showing their official identification at the West Indian-American Day Parade.
Police handcuffed the two while they were trying to backtrack to attend an official function, having walked the parade route.
The two had passed two checkpoints and were stopped at another (in a “frozen zone”). Police ignored their city-issued ID. Their interaction with the police was caught on video, has been played numerous times on TV and is circulating on the internet. Williams was cuffed while trying to call a higher ranking police official. Foy was pushed to the ground with a police officer saying, “It’s over for you. You’re done.”
“Young black males are treated differently,” Williams said at the press conference. He told those present he was stopped last month in south Brooklyn to verify he was the owner of his car. “I’m a city councilman. Imagine what can happen to young Black and Latino males,” he pointed out. He also said that if he had been of another persuasion (read: white), he didn’t think he would have been arrested.
During the course of the press conference, Williams repeated many times that the stop-and-frisk policy of the police department must be reexamined. “I was shocked we were arrested. This was an avoidable experience. The police initiated everything. I have been trained in non-violence.”
He also said that the statement that someone punched a copy is a “bald-faced lie.”
Kirsten Foy spoke about a life of fighting against racism, police brutality, and against injustice. “I don’t hold the officer responsible but his commanding officer. I’m not here to demonize the police.” Foy has reiterated that he sees racism as a systemic problem and not the police.
It was repeated time and again that the police polices need to be reviewed.
Williams said he has received an apology from the Mayor and has spoken with Police Commissioner Kelly. Shortly after the incident, the two were released and not charged. Commissioner Kelly says the incident is under investigation and the two public officials Williams and Foy are waiting for the outcome of this investigation.
City Council President Christine Quinn, and Assemblyman Nick Perry were also among those speaking with Williams. Councilwoman Letitia James said the same thing happened last year to an aide of hers who wanted to use the bathroom in the library. Charges were dropped when James intervened.